Best indoor rowing exercise machines for 2017

Doug Williams

Regardless of the brand and the tech it has mounted on it, an ordinary cardio machine does not work your body harder than a rowing machine. This is because a rowing exercise machine is designed to specifically target both the upper and lower body muscles, while at the same time pumping your heart rate up for improved cardiovascular fitness. Even one of the very basic stationary rowing machines can help you burn a ton of calories. According to Harvard Medical School, even a moderate exercise routine on a rowing machine that lasts just under half an hour can burn up to 316 calories in an adult weighing 155 pounds. Despite the many benefits of rowing machines, it is often hard to choose the perfect companion for your exercise regimen. Consider the following list when trying to find the best rowing machine for your personal gym.

LifeCore R100 Rowing Machine

Olympic Gold Medallist Captain Heather Stanning Keeping Fit During her Deployment to Afghanistan – Author: Defence Images – CC BY-NC 2.0
Olympic Gold Medallist Captain Heather Stanning Keeping Fit During her Deployment to Afghanistan – Author: Defence Images – CC BY-NC 2.0

The ingenious combination of magnetic flywheel resistance and air is the key feature of this commercial-grade rower. This combination allows the machine to adjust its resistance smoothly while following the pre-set or manual programs. The resistance levels go up as far as 16 enabling it to offer a whole range of different exercises and resistances. Users can use the machine’s monitoring system to monitor their heart during rowing to analyze their progress as they work up through the various levels. The resistance levels are adjusted by the onboard computer according to your heart rate, to prevent you from overworking and exhausting your muscles.

Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515

If you are a beginner on rowing machines and don’t exactly have huge amounts of cash to spend on a rower, the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515 is surely your kind of exercise machine. Amongst all the magnetic resistance rowing machines, this is by far the best bang for your hard-earned buck. The SF-RW5515 is the latest addition to a series of rowing machines from the company, and costs just under $400, and when you consider its magnetic tension system with eight different adjustment levels, it has to be the best deal you are going to get for this kind of price.

The magnetic system on the SF-RW5515 is one of the smoothest and, most importantly, one of the quietest rowing machines available on the market. The sturdy steel frame can easily support an individual weighing up to 250 pounds, and expertly designed seat rails provide the smoothest slide with every stroke. The onboard LCD computer displays stroke count, time, and calories burnt. The machine is very light, weighing just under 60 pounds and is perfect for your apartment as it folds up easily to fit into small storage spaces.

Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5606

Rowing machines in the gym
Rowing machines in the gym

A number of rowing enthusiasts recommend the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5606, especially to those who are starting out on their rowing experience or only wish to indulge in occasional rowing workouts, as it is among the most economical of rowing exercise machines on the market. This machine is equipped with an elastic cord resistance system that operates over four different levels of tension adjustment. Foot pedals are relatively large and are anti-slip which helps you keep your exercise routine on track, whereas the large accommodating seat coupled with nonslip handles make the rowing experience as comfortable and beneficial as possible. The LCD console on the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5606 displays stroke count, time, and calories burnt over the course of the exercise session.

Concept2 Model E Rowing Machine

The Concept2 Model E is a great choice for the home rower. With its magnetic flywheel, it puts the user in full control of the resistance levels. The spiral damper system of the Model E enables you to quickly adjust the airflow of the flywheel, putting you in control of the experience while minimizing the noise produced. The innovative PM5 performance monitor onboard the Model E is backlit for enhanced visibility and is compatible with all kinds of USB storage devices. It also allows heart rate monitoring to be done wirelessly with the help of Garmin and Polar products which are available separately. The chair level seat, which is 20 inches high, makes the workout easier on the knees, while the chain and the housing is nickel plated which lowers the chances of recurring maintenance issues.

WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

If you are longing for those long rowing sessions you used to have with your mates on Boston’s Charles River, or crave for some rowing on Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River but you’re landlocked for some reason, you should check out the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine as it provides the best water simulation possible in a workout.

WaterRower indoor rowing machine – Author: WaterRower GmbH, D-48529 Nordhorn – CC BY-SA 2.0 DE
WaterRower indoor rowing machine – Author: WaterRower GmbH, D-48529 Nordhorn – CC BY-SA 2.0 DE

The water flywheel of the WaterRower has two paddles submerged in a small tank of water, producing stealthily silent and smooth strokes. What makes the WaterRower stand out from other indoor rowing machines out there is the fact that there are no moving parts contributing towards the rowing. This feature is more important than you might think, as it significantly increases the life of the rowing machine and is perfect for heavy use while eliminating the need for periodic lubrication and maintenance of pulleys and other moving parts.

The flywheel of the WaterRower is effectively a self-regulating resistance system, which means that fast paddling will increase the drag and so providing more resistance; and if you paddle slower, you will get less intense resistance as drag decreases. Rowing on the WaterRower will ensure that you are using 85 percent of your muscle mass while involving all your limbs and joints in the movement, making your session a full body workout.

Stamina X Air Rower

Despite the popularity of hydraulic systems, a large number of air resistance rowers are bought every year, mainly for the more realistic rowing experience they provide, and for a fraction of the cost of other mechanical or hydraulic rowers. Available in the price range of just under $400, this Stamina X Air Rower is perhaps the most economical rower available for the features it offers. The gist of the workout on a Stamina X Air Rower could be summed up in one sentence: the harder you row on the Air Rower the more of a workout you will get. A sound steel frame of the Stamina X Air Rower can easily support a weight of up to 250 pounds. It comes with a basic LCD displaying all the information you need during the workout. The machine is easy to store due to its easy-to-fold structure.

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fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival